Hardback
September 14, 2018
9781421425849
English
248
64925
99
10
9.25 Inches (US)
6.13 Inches (US)
0.83 Inches (US)
1.25 Pounds (US)
$39.95 USD, £29.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference
Electronic book text
September 14, 2018
9781421425856
9781421425849
English
248
64925
99
10
9.25 Inches (US)
6.13 Inches (US)
$39.95 USD, £29.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Treasures Afoot

Shoe Stories from the Georgian Era

In Treasures Afoot, Kimberly S. Alexander introduces readers to the history of the Georgian shoe. Presenting a series of stories that reveal how shoes were made, sold, and worn during the long eighteenth century, Alexander traces the fortunes and misfortunes of wearers as their footwear was altered to accommodate poor health, flagging finances, and changing styles. She explores the lives and letters of clever apprentices, skilled cordwainers, wealthy merchants, and elegant brides, taking readers on a colorful journey from bustling London streets into ship cargo holds, New England shops, and, ultimately, to the homes of eager consumers.

We trek to the rugged Maine frontier in the 1740s, where an aspiring lady promenades in her London-made silk brocade pumps; sail to London in 1765 to listen in as Benjamin Franklin and John Hose caution Parliament on the catastrophic effects of British taxes on the shoe trade; move to Philadelphia in 1775 as John Hancock presides over the Second Continental Congress while still finding time to order shoes and stockings for his fiancée’s trousseau; and travel to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1789 to peer in on Sally Brewster Gerrish as she accompanies President George Washington to a dance wearing a brocaded silk buckle shoe featuring a cream ground and metallic threads.

Interweaving biography and material culture with full-color photographs, this fascinating book raises a number of fresh questions about everyday life in early America: What did eighteenth-century British Americans value? How did they present themselves? And how did these fashionable shoes reveal their hopes and dreams? Examining shoes that have been preserved in local, regional, and national collections, Treasures Afoot demonstrates how footwear captures an important moment in American history while revealing a burgeoning American identity.

About the Author

Historian Kimberly S. Alexander, a former curator at the MIT Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum, and Strawbery Banke, teaches material culture and museum studies at the University of New Hampshire.

Reviews

"Alexander spent eight years researching [Treasures Afoot], which examines eighteenth-century shoes from thirty different collections, plus thousands of original letters, inventories and other manuscripts. Each shoe or pair of shoes is the catalyst for a story of how it was made, sold and worn, told in astonishing depth and detail."

- Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell - Ornament Magazine

"Very engagingly written... Shoe history is a very popular field, and [Treasures Afoot] deserves to be widely read, as it is an excellent contribution to the histories of material culture and transatlantic consumerism."

- Matthew McCormack, University of Northampton - Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies

"This impeccably researched, written and illustrated book is enough on its own as a study of surviving luxury objects from almost a century of American history."

- Stella Tillyard - Times Literary Supplement

"[Treasures Afoot] is well written and easy to read... an interesting addition to the very limited number of works specifically about eighteenth century shoes."

- Alison Fairhurst - The Journal of Dress History

"This is a book that will intrigue students and scholars of American and Material Culture Studies, as well as anyone interested in fashion, history, or—what else?—shoes! It is well researched, accessible, and it interweaves history, biography, and engaging shoe stories in a brilliant manner, doing justice to all the strands in draws to it. It would be a delight to see more endeavors like this one undertaken by and circulating among Americanists."

- Katerina Delikonstantinidou - European Journal of American Studies

"In this richly illustrated volume, Kimberly S. Alexander focuses on footwear as a way to nuance and enrich our understanding of key themes in eighteenth-century British American history and culture. By tracing the production, sale, and (re)use of shoes, she revisits the development and maturation of gentility, consumer culture, and production networks across the latter decades of empire and the early years of the republic. In doing so, her study illuminates new facets of familiar dynamics, such as colonial American utilization of consumer items to craft social identities. The work also brings fresh attention to less familiar areas, such as how early American habits of recycling certain consumer items helped define class identities, familial relationships, and economic habits. As a result, much in this study will interest a broad range of scholars of early American society and culture."

- Sarah Fatherly, Queens University of Charlotte - Journal of American History

Endorsements

"Alexander's use of selected surviving shoes to tell historical stories, as well as her considerable research to document the tales she spins out, makes this book accessible for both casual audiences and historians."

- Linda Baumgarten, curator emerita, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and author of What Clothes Reveal: The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America

"A fresh approach that provides a good bridge between scholarship and people-stories that bring artifacts to life."

- D. A. Saguto, master boot and shoemaker emeritus, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and translator of M. de Garsault’s 1767 Art of the Shoemaker

"In this lavishly illustrated, meticulously researched book, Kimberly Alexander tells the fascinating, hitherto untold story of the shoe in early America—of the cordwainers who made them, the factors who advertised and sold them, the men and women who bought them, and, eventually, the museums that catalogued and displayed them. Treasures Afoot is a must-read for anyone interested in the material culture of the founding era."

- Eliga H. Gould, University of New Hampshire, author of Among the Powers of the Earth: The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire

"Treasures Afoot is a much-needed work on Georgian shoes, blending historic research and biography with material objects, elevating the importance of footwear from a dress accessory to a central element of an entire wardrobe. Alexander's book is a must-read for costume and shoe historians and sets a precedent for future scholars."

- Neal T. Hurst, associate curator of costume and textiles, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

"Kimberly Alexander brings the history of Georgian era shoes to vivid life in prose as lively as the purple silk and red wool used to make them. She traces shoemakers from London to the colonies, to sophisticated American consumers as bold in their fashion choices as their politics. A must read in eighteenth-century fashion history."

- Zara Anishanslin, University of Delaware, author of Portrait of a Woman in Silk: Hidden Histories of the British Atlantic World

"Alexander’s book is a time machine that transports the reader, vividly evoking the workshops of the finest shoemakers of eighteenth-century London, then following their coveted shoes across the Atlantic to explore the lives of those who longed for, bought, and wore their fine footwear. Treasures Afoot is a glinting mine, a trove rich with photographs and illustrations of sumptuous shoes and silks. I didn’t know how good a history book could be until I read this one."

- Emma Hope, Emma Hope Shoes

"Treasures Afoot illuminates the production and consumption of shoes in eighteenth-century colonial America, by examining the complexities of individual and national concerns, challenging longstanding assumptions and unearthing intriguing characters. Alexander's fascinating book is highly recommended."

- Hillary Davidson - Costume
Johns Hopkins University Press
From 17

9781421425849 : treasures-afoot-alexander
Hardback
248 Pages
$39.95 USD
9781421425856 : treasures-afoot-alexander
Electronic book text
248 Pages
$39.95 USD

Other Titles in History of the Americas

The Silent Shore

Charles L. Chavis Jr.
Jan 2022 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$29.95 USD - Hardback
$29.95 USD - Electronic book text

Brazil in the Global Nuclear Order, 1945–2018

Carlo Patti
Dec 2021 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$54.95 USD - Hardback
$54.95 USD - Electronic book text

FDR in American Memory

Sara Polak
Dec 2021 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$54.95 USD - Hardback
$54.95 USD - Electronic book text